How to find a dresser organization system that works for you - The Washington Post

When it comes to choosing organizing projects, the areas that scream chaos tend to get the most attention: Think junk drawers, closets and garages. But there are plenty of hidden pain points — such as your dresser — that also could use some love. Fishing through a tangle of clothes and random objects every time you need something can quickly turn into a major drag. With a little planning, though, you can restore order to these pits of despair.

We spoke to professional organizers about how to get and maintain a well-organized dresser. Here are their suggestions. White Bedside Table

How to find a dresser organization system that works for you - The Washington Post

Beatrice Copeland, a professional organizer and the host and director of a series of DIY and home-organizing videos, says the first step in any organizing project is a deliberate decluttering to “take the temperature of what you actually have.”

Start by removing everything from the drawers and spreading it out so you can decide what you want to keep. Ask yourself how often you really wear or use things, then donate or toss items that don’t fit, are worn out or just don’t work for you anymore. Also ask yourself if the dresser is the best spot for each piece; maybe your swimsuits don’t need to be accessible year-round, or your sweaters might fit better in bins under your bed.

Vernestine Laughinghouse, the president and owner of D.C.-based Absoulute Organizing Solutions, says the most obvious way to get ordered drawers is with broad, general categories: long-sleeve shirts together, underwear and lingerie in the same drawer, T-shirts side by side.

But other, less literal groupings might work better for you. “Organizing might sound like it’s one-size-fits-all, but it’s not at all because it’s really a reflection of how you live. So the best way to organize your dresser really depends on how you move through your morning,” Copeland says. “If it works, it works.”

Maybe it makes more sense to you to put all of the pieces of a particular workout set together, for example. Or if you always wear this shirt with those pants, then organize things that way. Go with whatever will save you time when you’re rushing to get out the door.

And keep in mind that the system can — and very likely will — change as your routine and needs evolve. Both Copeland and Laughinghouse recommend trying different configurations and moving things around until it feels right.

Just as your categories are personal, so, too, is how you decide what to store in which drawers. Start by thinking about the order you get dressed in the morning, Copeland says; the most accessible drawers should house the items you use most. For example, many people use the often-smaller top drawers to make undergarments easily accessible because those are the first thing they reach for when getting dressed. Copeland only stores her most-used items in her dresser, and she arranges them in descending order based on how she gets ready for the day. Undergarments and socks go in the top drawer, with leggings next, then T-shirts and long-sleeve shirts. She saves the bottom drawer for pajamas.

The dresser’s layout may also help dictate how you organize items. Shallow drawers are natural places for thin underwear and camisoles, Laughinghouse says, while deeper drawers can hold bulkier sweaters and pants.

You can store anything in your dresser, but Copeland recommends using the space primarily for lightweight, smaller items that don’t eat up drawer space. That includes socks, underwear, bras, workout clothes, pajamas and tops. Bulky or heavy items, such as jeans and sweaters, can go on a shelf in the closet. And, of course, anything that wrinkles or creases easily should go on a hanger.

Once you’ve decided which items will live in each drawer, adopt a realistic folding system. Both Copeland and Laughinghouse emphasize that you need to be honest with yourself on this; if you’re someone who hates folding laundry, it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to maintain piles of folded underwear. In that case, it would be better to use boxes to confine piles of loose underwear, separated by type.

Stacking clothes in vertical piles takes up more room and makes it tougher to see each item. Nancy Castelli, founder of organizing service Balance in San Francisco, recommends using the method popularized by Marie Kondo, which involves folding items in thirds and standing them on end in rows, like files in a cabinet. Or you could try rolling your clothes and storing them on end for the same effect. (This might not work for smaller items that don’t hold their shape well; fold those individually, or store them in a container.)

While they’re not necessary, drawer organizers, including honeycomb or drawer dividers and boxes, can help keep things tidy. “Dividers and organizers make it easier for each item to go back to its intentional home,” Laughinghouse says. For example, have separate boxes for different cuts of underwear. Just be sure not to get so granular that it becomes overwhelming to maintain.

Laughinghouse says the best organizer for one person might not work for another. Generally speaking, though, boxes and bins are a safe bet for corralling smaller items, while drawer dividers can help define separate rows of T-shirts, sweatshirts and other larger items. Carefully measure the width, length, height and depth of each drawer before buying inserts.

Copeland particularly likes soft fabric boxes, such as Ikea’s SKUBB ($6.99 for six boxes, and KOMPLEMENT ($9.99 for two boxes, Laughinghouse recommends standing, adjustable dividers to create subsections within drawers, including the RAPTUROUS Deep Drawer Dividers ($39.99 for five, They can be expanded to fit the length of your drawer then locked in place. Or for an even simpler solution, Castelli uses clean shoe boxes.

How to find a dresser organization system that works for you - The Washington Post

Aesthetic Dresser Helen Carefoot is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C., and a former editorial aide at The Washington Post.